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The Field Crew Symposium

A Model for Initial Implementation of a Collaborative Archaeology Project

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2017

Lisa Overholtzer*
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Wichita State University, 1845 Fairmount Street, Box 52, Wichita, KS 67260 (lisa.overholtzer@wichita.edu)

Abstract

In recent years, scholars have convincingly argued, on both ethical and epistemic grounds, for the need for archaeological research “with, for, and by” descendant communities. Realizing such collaborative projects, however, is often challenging, and the prospect of beginning such an endeavor intimidating. This article shares a successful methodology implemented in the Xaltocan Archaeological Project (PAX) carried out in 2009–2011 in Mexico. This format—field crew-centered education in the context of excavations, culminating in a public symposium by all team members disseminating preliminary findings—is a simple, manageable way to begin engaging descendants. In addition to describing the symposium format, I discuss how I mitigated two major challenges to its implementation: (1) incentive or compensation (and, thereby, funding) and (2) community members’ critical assessments of their own relevant knowledge. I reflect on the impact of the symposium on subsequent collaborative efforts, and I contemplate institutional obstacles that remain for scholars attempting to decolonize archaeological research in Mexico. Finally, I consider how the symposium format could be implemented in other research contexts.

Últimamente, los académicos han argumentado de una manera convincente sobre la necesidad de investigaciones arqueológicas “con, para, y por” las comunidades descendientes con justificaciones éticas y epistémicas. Realizar estos proyectos colaborativos, sin embargo, es difícil y la posibilidad de iniciar tal empeño es un reto formidable. Este artículo comparte una metodología exitosa que fue implementada en el Proyecto Arqueológico Xaltocan (PAX) llevado a cabo en 2009–2011 en México. Este método—educación del equipo de campo en el contexto de las excavaciones, culminando en un simposio al público por parte de todos los miembros del equipo para diseminar los resultados preliminares—es una manera fácil y razonable para empezar a involucrar a los descendientes. Además de describir el método del simposio, relato como mitigué dos retos grandes en su implementación: (1) incentivo o compensación (y por lo tanto, patrocinio) y (2) las evaluaciones negativas de los miembros de la comunidad de su propio conocimiento relevante. Reflexiono sobre el impacto del simposio en el éxito de esfuerzos colaborativos posteriores y contemplo los obstáculos institucionales que quedan para los académicos que quieren decolonizar las investigaciones arqueológicas en México. Finalmente, considero como se podría implementar el método del simposio en otros contextos de investigación.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2015

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The Field Crew Symposium
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